Waiting at Bikaner House, Delhi

Guest article by Tushar Shukla.

Day 23 (V) ~ #BlogchatterA2Z

All artwork is done by Seema Misra, Copyright Lonely Canopy.

#BlogchatterA2Z posts:

A , B , C , D , E , F , G , H , I , J , K , L , M , N , O , P , Q , R , S , T , U , V , W , X , Y , Z

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As a kid of 10 years, I have faint memories of Bikaner House. We used to hear these words often- Sarai Kaley Khan, ISBT Kashmiri Gate, Dhaula Kuan when we used to go to Delhi by a “Semi deluxe” bus from Jaipur. Back in the 90s, going to Delhi was quite the in thing to do for us. The whole experience was well anticipated and planned. Reaching the Jaipur Sindhi Camp bus stand, leisurely watching the travelers from the seats outside close to the ticket counter, walking up to the water cooler, buying an apple juice or comic books (Chacha Chaudhary, Raj Comics) from the magazine vendor stalls. Then as our bus would get ready for boarding, we would load up our baggage in the rear compartment, and proudly board the bus. For the rest of the night, we would be on this magic ride to the city of India Gate & Lal Killa- Dilli!

One stop we eagerly looked forward to was the midway stop at Behror. I would get down sleepy-eyed around 1:30 or 2 AM at the stop and run to the cafeteria there to find the ultimate object of desire, a hot piping bowl of Sambhar Vada. This was the north Indian version of sambhar with lots of coriander spice with a larger than life vada dunked carelessly in it, but for us, it was the stuff that dreams are made of. The goal was to finish it within 10 mins before the bus started again. In the odd chance of the driver being kind to us and waiting a little longer, we would even buy an espresso coffee and check out the savvy shops around, selling magazines, chocolates and cassette tapes of English music.

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A few hours later, we would enter Delhi through Gurgaon. Delhi had this foggy smoky air, and in those times, it used to feel like we have really arrived at someplace transformative. The broad roads, a line of trees, fast-moving vehicles, people who sported a look of menace and smoldering indifference, distinct neighborhoods and suburbs with quirky names. We would get down at Dhaula Kuan most of the times, and catch an auto from the impossible hordes of auto drivers fighting over us at this wee morning hour.

After we were done exploring Delhi, we would head to Bikaner House to catch the return bus. Bikaner House was automatically a hallowed place, as it was within the viewing distance of India Gate. Pandara Road was the name of the street. Our auto would get us there through the perfectly geometrical and concentric street patterns of Lutyens’ Delhi with beautiful monuments, buildings and statues, lots of them. Roads were emptier with fewer shops. In those days, seeing “Nayi Dilli” scribbled over shops used to fill my stomach with all kinds of butterflies.

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Bikaner House was a posh bus stand, that never looked like a bus stand. It was an administrative building surrounded by many other administrative buildings. The waiting room had an AC, quite a feat back then, and even a water cooler. Much later they, installed a TV as well. We bought the ticket at the counter, and then did what we were destined to do – wait. Waiting at Bikaner House was a luxury, listening to the Walkman, reading a magazine, checking out other travelers with the judgmental eyes of a pre-teen, it was all that I ever wanted in a trip. I never wanted the bus to arrive but it did, and we would board it and bid farewell to Bikaner House, with a promise to see it again soon.

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While reading up on this building, which has had a storied past, I was happy to find out that the recent restoration taken up by the Rajasthan government. Much of the damage caused by the neglect and abuse it suffered due to the bus boarding activity has been addressed. The house has been restored to the glory it enjoyed as the residence of the maharajah of Bikaner. Now, a hep cultural center, its Facebook page boasts of the high-society events.

Before it goes through any more changes, I would love to revisit Pandara Road, and sit at Bikaner House, and just wait….

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mammaspeaks
Guest

Loved the way you have described Lutyen’s Delhi. Belonging to old Delhi, my Delhi outings were limited to the central (Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, India Gate for the ice cream and picnics, Old Delhi Rly Station, Karol Bagh) and north Delhi (Model Town, north campus, etc). Though I have seen ISBT and Kashmiri Gate, I have not explored these areas.

syncwithdeep
Guest

Othan than the rashtrapathi bhavan, i have nott visited delhi but plan to go soon. as usual, the canvas says it all. excellent. W is We Shall Overcome.

syncwithdeep
Guest

Sorry for the typo. Was typing while travelling.

PrettyMummaSays
Guest

Seema, your post is so nostalgic. I was a regular at Bikaner House once. I just loved the vibe and those dreamy Volvo buses, But now its been ages I travelled to Jaipur by bus. Haven’t been to Bikaner House since years. I was told by my brother that a lot has changed now. Beautiful artwork.

Susan A Eames
Guest

That was such an interesting post. I’ve visited India a couple of times and we went to Bikaner House to try to organise some travel arrangements when we were back-packing through your amazing country.

Susan A Eames at
Travel, Fiction and Photos

Keith's Ramblings
Guest

What an intriguing place it sounds.It’s somewhere I’d really like to visit – who knows? I might one day! .I love the sketches that accompany your pieces.

A-Z of My Friend Rosey!

Meena
Guest

I have never been to bikaner house. But your description is so clear and artwork is so nice. I can visualise the bus stand, the magazines, and everything!

Gary
Guest

Wow, this is why I love blogging and seeing posts from people all over the world. Love the nostalgia here. It’s something every person, whoever they are, holds inside. Seeing this makes me feel knowing people is a privilege. So much news is negative and yet most of us are very similar inside.

Really enjoyed reading this and…you did the artwork too? I’m very impressed. It fits the post totally. Very gifted person methinks!

And thank you for dropping into my blog. I might have missed this otherwise!

Ashwini Menon (@Ashwini_Menon)
Guest

Have never waited anywhere for a bus …without fervently wishing that the bus would arrive fast so that I could rush out of there!!

Loved the long perspective sketch Seema. 🙂

Emily Bloomquist
Guest

Love the descriptions of Bikaner House! It sounds like a perfect place to spend a day people watching, reading, and hoping for a late bus. I am not sure if I would go back to visit as an adult. So many locations in our childhood memories seem different and less grand when we visit them years later.
Emily In Ecuador

Ishani Nath
Guest

Beautiful Illustrations and lovely article. I haven’t been to Bikaner House but your description about it has enabled me to take a virtual tour.

Jenny
Guest

Very evocative! After reading, I feel like I have been there.

Shalzmojo
Guest

Oh this post brought back similar memories and I can account for each of them with my personal ones too. We used to live in Jaipur during my initial growing up years and this was a trip most looked out for. I used to love sleeping in the bus and feel very grown up and cosmopolitan 😉
Bikaner house is one place where I have been meaning to go and check out its new Avatar with a gallery and everything – this post reminds me I should do it soon!

W is for Wildings #atozchallenge

trishafaye
Guest

What fun it was reading about a world I don’t know about. Thank you for sharing with us!

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Cathy Kennedy
Guest

Seema, I apologize for the late visit. Weekends are generally time away from Blogosphere and the Internet in general. I have much catching up to do today. Your accompanying sketches are always a delight to illustrate your point. I marveled a bit thinking that when you were 10 you liked drinking Espresso. The only way I can drink Espresso is in a latte as it’s usually too strong to suit me. However, my husband enjoys a good Espresso. Thanks for sharing some of your childhood memories and I hope you’re able to revisit Bikaner House and Pandora Road again. ~Curious… Read more »